Doctors are expected to have integrity. Does this not entail that they should do what they think is right?
Something interesting is happening in the House of Lords. Baroness O’Loan’s Conscientious Objection (Medical Activities) Bill, now at the committee stage, has put on the agenda an issue which well-deserves to be there. Its point is simple: all healthcare professionals should have a legal right to opt out of certain procedures which they find objectionable. It specifies three areas: abortion provision, withdrawal of life-saving treatment, and actions relating to certain reproductive technologies.
This is not particularly radical; the 1967 Abortion Act already explicitly protects conscientious objection. Indeed, it could even be asked why this should, in a country with a tradition of liberty like ours, even be up for debate. Do we really need law to protect the right to conscience?
Sadly, it has become clear that we do. Armchair philosophers have been discussing the merits of forcing doctors and nurses to act against their conscience (or lose their jobs) over the last few years. Many papers against conscience have been published. . . [Full Text]